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MEGADETH Now Tune Down To Compensate For DAVE MUSTAINE's Voice

No, he hasn't really toned down his headline-seeking personality so much. But Dave Mustaine has made a very wise decision recently with respect to live performances. To compensate for his aging voice, the band has now tuned their instruments from standard (E-A-D-G-B-E) to a full step down (D-G-C-F-A-D). There is no shame in doing this, as longtime rivals BFFs Metallica have actually been doing this for many years (Hetfield blew his voice out while recording So What). But I think most long-time Megadeth fans would agree its a decision that should have been made long ago.

Thumbs up Dave!

I saw Megadeth for the first time in 2006, then in 2008, 2010, and 2012. In between that 2008 and 2010, something clearly changed with Dave's voice. If you've seen Megadeth live anytime since 2009 you must have noticed how much trouble Dave's had hitting the vocal notes on some of the older material. This was especially evident at the Big 4 shows that Metal Injection originally featured…BEFORE they were re-mastered with studio overdubs which are incredibly obvious when you watch the DVD. Though I haven't been able to find those videos again, here is Megadeth in May of 2010 at Rock in Rio:

Hear the faintness in his voice? A lot of people asked "what the hell is wrong with his voice, he sounds like Mickey Mouse!"

What must have happened was, as Dave's voice got deeper, he probably developed a habit of using his falsetto, a fancy word for singing from the throat- rather than singing from the abdomen, which is what most vocal teachers would recommend. He actually started doing this much earlier, but even his falsetto used to be strong enough to carry challenging songs like Tornado of Souls or Reckoning Day, like in this clip from 2005:

The approach worked pretty well for awhile, but if used over and over again on multiple tours, it can take a real toll on your voice. Add in age as a factor and it becomes much harder to sing those high notes. And though he can be incredibly stubborn, Dave must have known this was hurting the overall performance of the band. Ah yes, I can already hear some fan-boy scream at me "But who goes to a Megadeth show to hear Dave sing? It's all about the guitar bro! Seriously, stop being so biased! Dave is God!!!" If that was the case then they would just play an instrumental set from now on. Just as the silly notion that his lyrics shouldn't be up for criticism on an album review, this hero-worshiping nonsense is really just a cop-out.

Anyway, here is Megadeth playing in Britain this summer with the new tuning arrangements:

He's hitting the notes! True, it's a little off-putting when one of your favorite songs of all time is played in a different tuning. But anything is better than hearing it butchered by barely audible vocals. I think Dave even looks happier now that he's able to carry the tune again, and perhaps this reflects an even greater sense of self-awareness on his part. Maybe this signals a further shift to a more humble, reasonable approach to his public persona as well. Maybe the next album will be a strong, focused improvement. Or maybe I'm just being overly optimistic to compensate for giving Supercollider such a pasting (which I still stand by).

When he's not infuriating people with his album reviews, Drew Zalucky is busy writing for his political website, For the Sake of Argument

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